Explanation, Prediction, Causation – An Unholy Trinity? Appreciative Comments on The Philosophy and Methods of Political Science - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Political Studies Review Year : 2017

Explanation, Prediction, Causation – An Unholy Trinity? Appreciative Comments on The Philosophy and Methods of Political Science

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Abstract

In this short but critical appreciation of Keith Dowding’s seminal Philosophy and Methods in Political Science I reflect on the distinctive treatment of both realism and explanation in contemporary political science that its author offers, expressing rather more sympathy for the former than the latter. I welcome his critique of the use and misuse of ‘isms’ in much of the existing literature, while pointing to some potential inconsistencies; I accept his broad and inclusive understanding of philosophic realism; and I praise Dowding for putting the question of explanation – and its adequacy – at the heart of the philosophy of political science (where I think it belongs). Yet I reject the idea that prediction is, or indeed, should be central to all social scientific explanation. Similarly, I take issue with the contention that we are typically distracted by questions of causation, suggesting that the presentation of a ‘credibly causal’ narrative is the crux of adjudicating good from bad explanation. I explore the implications of such a position and conclude with comments on Dowding’s call for the reproducibility and transparency of data.

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hal-01523948 , version 1 (17-05-2017)

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Colin Hay. Explanation, Prediction, Causation – An Unholy Trinity? Appreciative Comments on The Philosophy and Methods of Political Science. Political Studies Review, 2017, 15 (2), pp.180-186. ⟨10.1177/1478929917693640⟩. ⟨hal-01523948⟩
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